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Sister Remembers Man who Drowned after Underwater Proposal; Trump Admits Discussing Biden in Call; Emmy Awards Results; Trump Sues to Block Tax Returns. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 23, 2019 - 08:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Law enforcement.

MANDY WEBER HOFFMAN, SISTER OF STEVEN WEBER JR.: We haven't heard anything at this point. Not at all.

We are hoping that -- to -- to get an autopsy result. They -- they were required to perform an autopsy in that country. And so we are under the impression, and we have been told that we will get a report just to confirm what exactly happened.

I think the unknown is what is the most difficult to deal with right now on top of his passing. We're just ready for him to be back in the United States so that we can -- we can touch him, we can be with him, and that we can lay him to rest.

BERMAN: And I do want to tell people in case they want to help, you've created a GoFundMe page. And we'll put that up on the screen there.


BERMAN: To help raise funds to bring Steven back home.

HOFFMAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: How do you want your brother to be remembered?

HOFFMAN: I want everyone to remember that Steven was one of the most selfless persons that I have ever known in my life. As you can imagine, there's been sibling rivalry our whole lives, but he never ceased to make me laugh. He -- every time he walked into a room, he has an infectious smile and he has a sense of humor that -- that is like no other. His beautiful eyes. He is just a selfless person who gave to many, many, many people. He's a beautiful soul that we are going to miss dearly.

BERMAN: Look, Mandy Weber Hoffman, we're so sorry for your loss. We put that GoFundMe up on the screen so people can help if they can. Please know that we're thinking of you. This has got to be such a difficult time. We can see your brother's smile there and we hear you say that Kenesha will always be part of your family.

Thank you so much for being with us today.

HOFFMAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: We'll be right back.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A highly anticipated meeting this week between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart here in New York amid this whistleblower scandal.

CNN's Matthew Chance reports from Kiev on the reaction in Ukraine.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is why Ukraine is so horrified at being dragged into America's political drama. The flow of millions of dollars of U.S. military aid needed to fight Russian-backed rebels in its war-torn east. Crucial assistance that was briefly suspended earlier this year and that Ukraine fears could be cut off any time Washington is displeased.

It's against this backdrop of dependency that Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, only sworn in this May, is reported to have been pressured by President Trump, according to a source, an intelligence whistleblower complained that Trump urged Zelensky in a July phone call to investigate Joe Biden's son, Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company when his father was U.S. vice president, something U.S. and Ukrainian officials have now acknowledged

VADYM PRYSTAIKO, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): There was talk, conversations are different. Leaders have the right to discuss any problems that exists. This conversation was long, friendly and it touched on a lot of questions, including those requiring serious answers.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a great conversation. The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place, was largely the fact that we don't want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption --

CHANCE: Ukraine officials say there's no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden, but the July 25th telephone call has raised concerns that President Trump withheld military aid to coerce a foreign leader to dig up dirt on his political rival, driving calls for an investigation into possible abuse of power.

CHANCE (on camera): The Ukrainian leadership, which has only been in office for a few months, is watching all this unfold with alarm. President Zelensky and his closest aides are refusing even to speak to us as they try to keep their heads down ahead of a planned meeting with President Trump later this week in New York. They know this is a scandal that could damage a crucial Ukrainian relationship with the current American president.

CHANCE (voice over): And, depending on the outcome of the 2020 U.S. election, possibly with the next president too.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Kiev.


BERMAN: Like I was saying, an incredibly awkward, even dangerous position for Ukraine to be in right now.

CAMEROTA: We'll see how it goes this week.


All right, last night's prime time Emmy's, a celebration of firsts and bittersweet lasts. The polarizing final season of "Game of Thrones" took home the big drama prize. On the comedy side, the British comedy "Fleabag" was the big surprise.

CNN's Stephanie Elam live in Los Angeles with the big moments.

"Game of Thrones," people seemed to like that show.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One or two people around the world liked that show, you're right.

Well, "Game of Thrones" taking away the big prize in the drama. Peter Dinkloage also getting a win for his supporting role in that. Obviously people were expecting two win -- sweep the night. That is not how it went for them. They didn't win a lot of the acting categories, but they got the big prize of the night.

Also, "Fleabag," as you mentioned, walking away with four awards, including Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who created the show. So she took three of the awards where she was a part of there. A big win for her for that show as well.

But, you know, if you're looking for an emotional moment, take a look at when Jharrel Jerome won for his role, lead actor in "When They See Us," for a limited series. This is the young man who played Cory Wise, the man who was in jail the longest of what are now known as the exonerated five. Listen to what he said on stage.


JHARREL JEROME, EMMY WINNER, OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE: But, most importantly, this is for the men that we know as the exonerated five. It's for Raymond, Yusef, Antron, Kevin and King Korey Wise!


ELAM: So that's Korey there on the left. So the five men in the audience when he's giving that speech and Korey was just crying. It was an emotional moment.

Also, Jharrel Jerome beating out Mahershala Ali, who he starred with in "Moonlight." So also a little touching moment there too.

And then you've got Alex Borstein, who won for her role on "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." She's funny. She started off with a joke. But then she really had a very poignant message to share about her lineage and how she even could be there on that stage. Take a listen.


ALEX BORSTEIN, EMMY WINNER, SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES: To my mother, where are you? Where you when you come (ph)? To my grandmother, Naji (ph), they are immigrants, they are Holocaust survivors. My grandmother turned to a guard. She was in line to be shot into a pit and she said, what happens if I step out of line. And he said, I don't have the heart to shoot you, but somebody will. And she stepped out of line. And for that I am here and for that my children are here. So, step out of line, ladies. Step out of line.


ELAM: A poignant moment no doubt.

CAMEROTA: Wow. Yes, that was intense.

Now, there -- obviously there was always a lot of buzz that there was going to be no host. It seemed like there were sort of many hosts. How did it go?

ELAM: I know, it's like no host but then there's Homer Simpson starting off the shows.


ELAM: And then he's gone. There was a very funny bit where you had Ben Stiller and Bob Newhart, which was just awesome. Bob Newhart is just -- he's just awesome. So there was that.

But there were a lot of little different jokes that came along that was kind of host adjacent. And then they had an Emmy's announcer, this gentlemen named Thomas Lennon, and he had one joke, presumably about Felicity Huffman. Take a listen.


THOMAS LENNON, COMEDIAN: The producers have asked me to give a special shout out to any of our previous lead actress winners who are watching tonight from prison. Hopefully those two weeks are going to fly right by. Keep your chin up.


CAMEROTA: Too soon. Too soon.

ELAM: Yes. And also, here's the other thing, she hasn't reported to jail yet. She's not in jail. She could have been watching from home. And, also, I don't know if that was the right audience for that joke.

BERMAN: The fact checkers are going to be all over that joke.

CAMEROTA: You're right.

All right, thank you, Stephanie.

BERMAN: Stephanie, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 9:30 a.m. ET, First lady rings NYSE opening bell.

11:30 a.m. ET, President Trump speaks in New York.

8:15 p.m. ET, Bernie Sanders rally in Clinton, Iowa.


BERMAN: President Trump's lawyers claim the president does not have to turn over his taxes to New York prosecutors. Wait until you hear why, next.

CAMEROTA: Then, repairing America's forests one tree at a time. In this week's "Impact Your World."


DAN LAMBE, PRESIDENT, THE NATIONAL ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION: Make no mistake about it, our forests are in trouble. Whether it's increasing frequency and severity of storms, like hurricanes and tornadoes and floods, to wildfires.

Last year alone, in the United States, we lost millions of acres of forest lands because of wildfires. Fires that burned so hot these forests will not naturally regenerate. And that's why we say if ever there was a time to be planting trees, that time is now.

It is urgent that we act, and that's why at the Arbor Day Foundation we have launched The Time for Trees Initiative. We're committing to planting 100 million trees by 2022 and engaging five million tree planters to get that work done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very rewarding to plant a tree. It gives you a sense of fulfillment and commitment to something that's greater than yourself.

LAMBE: We are working with the U.S. Forest Service, state forestry agencies, national parks to help replenish these critical lungs of our nation.


Anyone who becomes a member of The Arbor Day Foundation, we will send ten sapling trees that they can plant.

People who want to get involved in local, volunteer tree planting opportunities, you can go on our website and find local organizations for you to engage in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trees that I planted ten years ago that were just basically twigs are now full grown trees. So it's a great legacy.



CAMEROTA: Prosecutors in New York want to see President Trump's tax returns. President Trump does not want them to see those. So he is suing to block them from getting eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns.


This is a tactic that Mr. Trump frequently uses. Do his lawsuits work?

Joining us now is James Zirin, he's former assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. He is also the author of "Plaintiff in Chief: A Portrait of Donald Trump's 3,500 Lawsuits."

Mr. Zirin, great to have you.

Three thousand five hundred lawsuits. That barely seems humanly possible.


Actually, Alisyn, he had more lawsuits than the five other real estate magnets in the United States combined. So he had at least five times as many lawsuits as those five real estate magnets.

CAMEROTA: That's important context.

You also told me that this number is now out of date. Since becoming president, he's added to this total. What are we up to?

ZIRIN: At least 200 -- at least 200 more.

CAMEROTA: Does he sue people more often or get sued more often?

ZIRIN: He sues slightly more often than he's sued, but it's both. He's both on the receiving end and he brings lawsuits. Many of the lawsuits that he settles, many of the lawsuits are dismissed, but he loves to litigate.

CAMEROTA: It -- he must. It sounds like it.

And in terms of what he sues people for, I'll read a portion of your book. Here it is. As his life in court evolved, Trump saw litigation as being only about winning. He sued at the drop of a hat. He sued for sport. He sued to achieve a sense of control. And he sued to make a point. He sued as a means of destroying or silencing those who crossed him. He became a plaintiff in chief.

And do those lawsuits work? Are they effective? Does he win?

ZIRIN: Well, often they work because people don't have the funds to defend against a Trump lawsuit. I mean one of the sickest suits he brought was against a father and daughter travel agency in Siosit (ph), which was called Trump Travel. Trump has never been in the travel business. They never competed with Trump. It's a small business. And they exhausted their life savings defending against this lawsuit which sought to have them take the Trump name down from the travel agency.

CAMEROTA: But was Trump their name?

ZIRIN: Well, Trump was not their name. Actually, they used Trump because they booked tours where people played bridge and they used the name Trump and they thought it was a good name, like Ace Hardware.

The fact is, he sued another family from South Africa, two brothers, who had the name Trump. He lost the case. He sued them for a billion dollars. They had more money than he had. They were multibillionaires and they defended the case and defended it successfully.

CAMEROTA: So does he just have incredibly deep pockets and he's willing to spend his fortune on this?

ZIRIN: Well --

CAMEROTA: It's not easy to bring a lawsuit.

ZIRIN: Well, that's true. People often ask me, how could he bring 3,500 lawsuits, or be involved in 3,500 lawsuits. The answer is, he didn't pay most of his lawyers.

CAMEROTA: Is that right? He doesn't pay his lawyers?

ZIRIN: He doesn't pay his lawyers. Doesn't pay his architects. Doesn't pay his creditors. Goes into bankruptcy. He really pushes the system for all that it's worth.

CAMEROTA: So people must stop representing him at some point if you hear that he doesn't pay his lawyers?

ZIRIN: Well, he would say to lawyers repeatedly, you know, it's such an honor to represent me, you don't need to be paid.

CAMEROTA: Well, I hope that -- apparently that has worked because he has this next lawsuit against the prosecutors in New York who want to see his tax returns.

So given your exhaustive research into all of his lawsuits, will he win that one?

ZIRIN: Well, I -- my exhaustive research would indicate there he goes again. He should not win this lawsuit. The lawsuit is ridiculous. In the first place, there is a statute of Congress, which has existed since the dawn of the republic, 1793, which says a federal court will not interfere with state court proceedings. It's called the Anti- injunction Act. And that absolutely bars Trump from bringing this claim against Cy Vance for -- in order to get the federal court to enjoin the subpoenas that Vance issued to the Trump Organization and to Trump's outside accountants.

CAMEROTA: We only have a few seconds left, but just tell me, how does he see the legal system?

ZIRIN: He sees the legal system as a weapon. He's weaponized the legal system. He sees it as something which he can use offensively and he sees it as something where he can beat the system and get around requirements of the law.

CAMEROTA: We'll see what happens in this case.

James Zirin, the book again is "Plaintiff in Chief," thanks so much for bringing it to our attention and explaining all of this.

ZIRIN: Well, I'm delighted to be here.

CAMEROTA: It's a fascinating read.

ZIRIN: Thank you, Alisyn.


BERMAN: "The Good Stuff" is next.



BERMAN: It is time now for "The Good Stuff."

When funeral directors in Nashville cannot find friends or family for the funeral of fallen U.S. Air Force Veteran Staff Sergeant Linden Badgette (ph), they sent out an invitation to the public online.

So, what happened? Dozens of fellow veterans showed up, even though they had never met him.


STEVE QUARLES, U.S. ARMY VETERAN: It's hard to say. I can't imagine a veteran being buried without some recognition. It broke my heart.


BERMAN: And he wasn't because other veterans showed up there and shared in that moment. Staff Sergeant Badgette was buried with full military honors.

And this is something we see actually more and more now. Jake Tapper's terrific about giving publicity to some of these funerals right now for people who may not have friends or family but should be honored for the service they gave to the country.

CAMEROTA: That was beautiful. You could hear how choked up that fellow veteran was. That was so nice that they do that.


All right, that's it for us.

"NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto.